Friday, April 07, 2023

NPM 2023 - Poem 7

My poem for Day 7 of National Poetry Month is written to a horrific Letter from Governor Ross Supporting Apache Removal (1886). You can read the entire letter in the link.

They Were Here First

ghosts of the past
rattle in the present
their descendants are here
strangers in their own land

targeted by hateful language
yesterday and today
     traditional enemies
     generations of hostility
     warpath of pillage and murder
     radical measures

no peace except in
distant and isolated lands

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2023. All rights reserved.

I hope you'll join me tomorrow for my next poem highlighting a piece of history. You can read the previous poems as images on Instagram or at the links below. Each one is listed according to the primary source that inspired it.

April 1 - Sketch map of White Oak Swamp and vicinity southeast of Richmond.]; 6/1862; Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77 
April 2 - John Wilkes Booth's calling card
April 3 - Section of the city code of Montgomery, Alabama, requiring segregation on buses
April 4 - 1917 poster showing Liberty presenting a sword "Service" to a young woman
April 5 - Sheet music cover for Votes for Women: International Suffragists' Song
April 6 - Teachers' Monthly Report and Rules (1865): Narrative School Reports from Teachers and Superintendents of Freedmen's Schools

I hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. Happy poetry Friday, friends!


  1. Tricia, your poem and your history focus for April reminds me of Docupoetry. The poem you share here is most pertinent to me at present as Australia edges closer to a National referendum on recognition of Indigenous Australian within the constitution (which pertains to the past) and the setting up of an Indigenous voice to Parliament (the present and the future) The lines-'targeted by hateful language yesterday and today' are particularly significant. This referendum is a watershed moment in our nation's history. I can only hope we step up and grassp the opportunity that stands before us. Thank you for your poem and the thoughts it has evoked within me. Wishing you a month of historical revelations with your poetry.

  2. Tricia, I am happy that I stopped by to read this post that blends history with poetry. It is amazing to me that humanity still cannot see others as equals.

  3. These poems are amazing. I'm glad I can keep up on IG -- and your images there add so much to the poetry. I have to say, though, reading that letter in its entirety is beyond horrific. And we're not really much farther along in our development as humans...sigh.

  4. Wow, Tricia - this is such a unique project...and a response poem is a great way to both learn the history and delve into how we - literally respond (as opposed to just reading it and moving on). It's a first-step action! Thank you for suggesting this as poetic content.

  5. I've been following your project on Instagram. On my travels today I listened to the audiobook of Braiding Sweetgrass. The removal of indigenous people is a shameful part of the past.

  6. Oh my goodness--I've missed your project so far and will go look on IG to keep up with such a heavy lift of historical research and poetic rendering. We watched the movie "RRR" last night and it's wildly ridiculous superhero stuff in some ways and also a blazing indictment of colonialism in others. Worth the 3 hours for sure!